Lot 33 (Garden and Natural History Live Auction, 1st October 2019)
Sold for £1,600
Boats: A cedar strip canoe by the Lakefield Canoe Company
with two pairs of paddles and applied makers’ plaques
length 485cm; beam 82cm
Lakefield Canoe was a Canadian canoe company established in 1858 in Lakefield, Ontario. One of the leading makers was Walter Walker, born 1907.
From 1937 to 1942, he built cedar-strip sail boats for George Cook at Sail-Craft in Lakefield. When that company closed as a result of the demands of war production, he found work with the Peterborough Canoe Company and spent the next 20 years there, from 1942 to 1961. In 1959, at the age of 52, he was appointed foreman, overseeing the work of 100 men in the factory.
The Peterborough Canoe Company closed in late 1961. The following year, Walker returned to another Lakefield company, RILCO Industries, to build canoes for Jack Richardson, who had been manager of the Peterborough Canoe Company. Walter eventually became plant manager at RILCO, a position he held until 1967 when that company also closed its doors.
As he had done many times before, driven by his passion to build boats, Walter moved on to Peel Marine in Lakefield where he built and repaired canoes until he retired in 1986. Many of the canoes Walker built at Peel Marine are treasured by their owners to this day; they are visible and distinctive at the various annual regattas in and around the Kawartha Lakes and farther afield.
One such craft, built in 1977, was commissioned by the Village of Lakefield as a gift to HRH Prince Andrew, at the time a Lakefield College School student and now Patron of the Canadian Canoe Museum. That item is presently part of Royal Canoes exhibit at the Canadian Canoe Museum, on loan from its owner.